My Top 9 Writing Posts

I’ve been traipsing down memory lane.

What started as a leisurely browse through my archives morphed into a thorough hunt for posts about writing. Once I’d found all my victims, what else could I do but pick out the best?

My Top Nine Writing Posts

  1. 11 Rules For Writing Fiction
    Before learning about characters and craft, there’s one BIG writing obstacle to overcome: finding the time (and motivation) to write.

  2. Putting Pen to Paper
    If you write with pen and paper, you’ll spend less time fussing over the first draft and just get on with it.

  3. Burn Out
    Everyone burns out – and this is where I admitted I had. The post still resonates on a deeply personal level; every time I read it, I feel reassured.

  4. How To Start Writing Again
    The secret to rediscovering the joy of writing is to manage your own expectations.

  5. 7 Ways To Start Writing Again
    If you’ve abandoned a story, how do you get back into the habit of writing?

  6. How To Find The Time To Write
    Ten ways to find 10 minutes to write.

  7. Plotting vs Pantsing
    What’s the point in picking sides?

  8. 11 Rules For Editing Fiction
    Editing is fun. It’s like scrubbing off the dirt from your novel’s little face. But where do you start?

  9. First Impressions
    If the first thing a character does is poo in front of the reader, the reader will think of him as the Pooing Character forevermore.

Clearly, the areas that I struggle with — motivation and productivity — feature the most in my posts.

While I’m not the most prolific of bloggers, it’s reassuring to realise that I occasionally produce more than dribble.

Share your best writing-related blog post in the comments!

The Importance of Proofreading

Everyone bangs on about the importance of proofreading. But why does it matter?

The most important part of an author’s job is to tell a brilliant, gripping, powerful story. No one cares about a few misplaced commas and typos! True readers can see past those minor niggles and appreciate the author’s storytelling genius… right?


The last couple of Kindle titles I’ve bought have contained mistakes – minor annoyances such as missing punctuation and the odd misspelled word. But every error is a distraction from the story.

An author’s job is not simply to tell a story, but to do that story justice.

How can you claim to have given your story every chance in life if you haven’t bothered to proofread it?

Everyone makes mistakes – even the big publishing houses. But indie authors have more at stake. The naysayers who think indie means unprofessional are still out there; don’t fan their flames.

So: Proofread your work. Read the story backwards paragraph by paragrah to sense check every line. (That’s my technique.)

Then get your friends/beta readers to read your work. If you can afford it, get a professional editor involved.

Whatever you do, don’t rely on MS Word’s farcical grammar/spell checker.

Once you accept that Microsoft did not invent grammar, it’s amazing how many mistakes you can find.

Why Make Up Is Like Editing

Every day I spend about ten minutes touching up my face.

Image via yenhoon on SXC

Image via yenhoon on SXC

First concealer, then blusher, eyeshadow and eyeliner, with a final buffing of finishing powder to pull everything together.

Despite my boyfriend thinking the entire exercise is unnecessary, I would rather show the world the most polished version of my face possible.

And it was on one of these mornings when I realised that make up isn’t all that different from editing.

Unless you’re into masochism webfiction, you WANT the world to see the most polished version possible of your story.

Even with webfiction, the urge to go back and fix things is there.

First you need foundation and concealer to smooth out the edges of your story and correct any plot holes. If the story’s basis is uneven, there’s no point working on anything else.

Then you need blusher, to add colour and breathe life into your story, and to make your characters have shape and definition.

Then the eyeshadow and eyeliner, the flair and drama and emotion. The best bits, shown off to their best.

Finally, the finishing powder. Blend your edits together, remove irksome typos, make the finished story seamless.

And that, my dears, is how you edit with make up.

Eleven Rules For Editing Fiction

So you’ve nailed down the 11 Rules for Writing Fiction. You’ve finished your novel. You feel good. INVINCIBLE. But then… what’s that? A typo? A cliché?!

Crap, you realise. The hard work has only just begun.

Welcome to the world of editing.

No, come back! Don’t run away screaming! Editing is fun. It’s like scrubbing off the dirt from your novel’s little face. You know how good it feels when you scrub your kitchen until all the surfaces are sparkly? That’s what editing is like.

But where do you start? Here’s some suggestions on what to look out for….

11 Rules For Editing Fiction

  1. Read critically.
    Take a break from your novel and come back to it with fresh eyes. Read it critically. Find out where things don’t work and what you need to change. Take notes.

  2. Plan.
    You don’t want to edit the story any more than you have to. Look over your notes, and if needed write a new outline. How will you better demonstrate the character’s development? Where will you plant clues about the killer’s identity? Know what needs to be changed and how, before you start rewriting.

  3. Leave line editing for last.
    The story’s basic structure comes first; leave the details for last. Focus on fixing plot holes first, on re-ordering scenes, fixing timelines–the big stuff. Don’t waste time on making a sentence sound perfect, when you don’t even know whether that scene will survive the rewrite.

  4. CUT! (aka Know When To Start)
    Get rid of that prologue. Heck, get rid of the first two chapters. Cut straight to the action–the readers don’t need long passages introducing the protagonist, the protagonist’s family and the protagonist’s collection of rocks. Neither do they need weather reports or waking-up-in-bed starts. Speaking of which…

  5. Avoid bedtimes.
    Don’t abuse waking and sleeping. If that’s how you do all your scene breaks, something’s wrong — even if your protagonist is narcoleptic. Finishing a scene with someone drifting off to sleep is often anti-climatic, starting with them waking in bed is dull, and you can only believably wake up from a nightmare so many times.

  6. Avoid cliché.
    Both in your scenes and in your language. Pay special attention to similes and metaphors–as black as night, as cold as death, a bird in the hand… To make your story sound original and fresh, get rid of anything your reader will recognise.

  7. Delete unnecessary words.
    Make your writing as tight as possible. Often-overused offenders are: seem, suddenly, just, even, really, feel, almost, slightly, and directional words (up/down/in/out). Treat adverbs with caution. Cut as many as possible.

  8. Get an outside opinion.
    Have other people read it. Develop a thick skin. Listen to all of their advice and thank them for it. Compile their feedback, and see what they all agree on.

  9. Read it aloud.
    Listen to the rhythm. Does it sound right?

  10. Love what you do.
    Don’t despair. Editing can be disheartening, but it’s not all bad. And hey, even if it is, that’s why you’re editing!

  11. Finally…
    Share your wisdom — what’s your eleventh editing rule?